Outback Communication: The Bush Telegraph Adventures on the Larapinta Trail

“Oohhh..so you’re THAT girl they were talking about!”

The stories and people you meet when on the trails are next to nothing like you get in the city. Five days on the Larapinta was the first time I embarked on a solo unassisted hike, and let me tell you, I learnt A LOT!

Read about my solo hiking adventure on the Larapinta Trail, including the interesting people I met and a few challenges and surprises along the day.

A Solo 5-Day Hike on the Larapinta Trail

A red wild plant
Wild Plant in Larapinta Trail by @surroundedbywilderness on IG

Connecting Through Conversations

I always make it a challenge to say hello to everyone I pass and at camp each night. I love conversations with new people as I feel you can learn from everyone you meet in life.

My journey on the Larapinta Trail started at Ellery Creek, and straight off the bat, I met two lovely girls who were also heading east, one an ecologist who taught me a lot about flora and fauna along the trail, the other a high school science teacher who showed me that being a dorky hiker is exactly what I want to be when I grow up!

The nights were cold, and the morning pack-up was a challenge – I had never shaken ice off a tent before. The daytime was beautiful, with not a cloud in the sky; great weather for hiking, if you will!


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Challenges and Surprises at Hugh Gorge and Standley Chasm

At Hugh Gorge campsite, I met a lovely couple who were hanging their whole packs up high on a tree with some guy rope. I asked why, and they said that they had heard of a girl who had her pack stolen by a dingo! I found it hard to believe and had so many questions about how this was possible, but they could not answer these questions.

I finished my time on the Larapinta Trail at Standley Chasm. This beautiful hike showed me two things I didn’t know I had, the physical and the mental strength needed to to push myself on the trail and also my confidence in social situations with strangers, literally in the middle of nowhere.


A girl with back pack on standing near the water
Hugh Gorge by @surroundedbywilderness
A green tent on Brinkley Bluff with a sunrise background
Brinkley Bluff by @surroundedbywilderness on IG

Unraveling the Mystery

A few days later, back in Alice, I was waiting for the airport shuttle bus as I was on my way home. A girl a little younger than myself, wearing hiking boots and carrying a grocery bag, asked if I was also waiting for the shuttle and sat beside me.

I asked if she had done the Larapinta Trail, and she told me she ran the entire trail with her friend.

Firstly, I was confused as she didn’t have any belongings with her. 

Being the inquisitive person I am, I asked her where her bag was.

She laughed and said, “You’re never going to believe this: a dingo stole my backpack!!”

I replied, “Oohhh..so you’re THAT girl they were talking about!”

She was in disbelief that I had actually heard about her story.

All those questions I had a few days earlier can now be answered!



Reality of Outback Communication

As it turns out, this lovely girl was travelling LIGHT on the Larapinta Trail because she was running; all she took with her were the bare essentials. She said she was using her pack as a pillow, and the dingo must have stolen it while she was sleeping (let’s remember she had about 150km under her belt by this stage, and she also had food in her pack). The girl looked for her pack the next day, but it was never to be found. 

At that moment, I knew my new friend was telling the truth, and I could see how upset she was; she had only just bought her new Satellite Phone days before her trip.

In the end, this story goes to show how word in the outback really does travel along the Bush Telegraph!


A girl on Cliff Lara on Larapintal Trail
Photo by @surroundedbywilderness on IG

Remember to pack your sense of adventure, respect for nature, and an open mind as you set out to discover the West MacDonnell Ranges. Leave only footprints behind as you traverse the trails and immerse yourself in the pristine wilderness of the National Park! We would love your feedback – we encourage you to share your experiences, questions, and suggestions in the comments below. 

You can always get more inspiration for other National Parks to visit by following @northerhq or get your West MacDonnell National Park daily fix @westmacdonnellnationalpark

*Cover image is by @surroundedbywilderness on IG

Picture of Paige Single

Paige Single

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